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tonight on "nightline" -- road rage. pelted with water, blasted with arctic cold, we take you inside general motors's top secret testing grounds where they're unleashing mother nature's worst to try to bring the company all of the way back from the brink. life in the white house, first lady michelle obama in a c candid interview, how she keeps her marriage and politics separate. >> i rarely step foot in the west wing. >> and her strategy for keeping her drawers grounded as they grow up in the biggest spotlight. and the reunion. for those who spent the '90s obsessed with the soapy drama of amanda, kimberly and billy, the stars back at the same address
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tonight, together again to discuss their favorite moments of "melrose place." good evening, i'll bill weir. well, it's been three years since general motors filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy and for the once-mighty company, rising from the ashes of a government bailout, has included some severe self-reflection, including a top secret automotive torture chamber. for the first time, gm is giving us a peek at how they smash or bash a new model long before any critic can. and abc's elisabeth leamy is the one to take us behind the scenes. >> reporter: it's like hazing for cars. engineering as an extreme sport. these are the tests the leaner,
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meaner general motors is putting its vehicles through. tests the public has never seen before. we had unprecedented access to the gm proving ground, one of the most secretive sites in the automotive world. our tour guide on the wild ride is james bell, gm's new head of consumer affairs an audacious choice because he spent years slamming automotive companies as a journalist, once callinged cadillac cim m arron a real letdown. >> reporter: gm is the car company that produced infamous chevy vegas, x cars in '80s and saturns and plain ugly pontiac aztecs in the 2000s, that's why the post bailout strategy is to improve reliability and its reputation. with more and more extreme testing. first up, wicked weather.
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every car on the assembly line endures the water test booth. when i psh this button? sxwlt torrent will begin. >> reporter: here we go. our car disappears as it's pelted with nearly 7,000 gallons in eight minutes. so it's not just about keeping the passengers dry but also the engine dry? >> passengers are almost secondary. >> reporter: not surprisingly, we stayed dry. gm didn't show us any cars that might actually fail a test. water falling is one threat. water rising is another. >> we've only been doing this\the last couple of weeks, actually. >> reporter: this water trough tests the car's ability to keep passengers safe in floodwater. it seems like you're testing not only for what you want people to do with the cars but for what they'll actually do. >> it's the extreme. the vehicle has to be shown that it can handle what crazy people do.
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>> reporter: for the first time ever, gm allowed an outsider to film its climate actic wind tunnel. test track, another first. i actually get to drive, they're letting me do this. >> 15 miles per hour. >> reporter: ooh. oh, my gosh. i could do this for a living. okay. that was worse than d.c., where i live. next we navigate a ditch so deep the size is a trade secret. the truck performs well but that's not always the case. despite this extensive testing, the new general motors issued 14 safety recalls so far this year. and consumer reports ranks it 12th out of 13 car companies for reliability. some models do very well, others not so much. why is that? >> we believe in the products we're developing, we believe that process is certainly improving. >> reporter: is it too little, too late? >> i certainly hope not.
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we recognize the ills of our past, but do yourself a favor and compare us again. >> reporter: the company's crash test results are far better than in the past according to the insurance institute for highway safety, which named some general motors vehicles top six for safety. gm now done ducts more than 50 different crashes before releasing a new model. we're about to see how they do it. and gm pulls the plug because they're crashing a car that hasn't been released yet. >> this is very sensitive. something needs to be fixed, we want to make sure that's done well before any consumer or anybody considers these brands or know anything about it. >> reporter: we persuade them to let us show the multiton barrier hurtling toward the car. oh, gosh. >> just like that. a truck has hit the side of that car. >> reporter: bam. what we just saw and heard was t-bone crash similar to this one. we've seen a breathtaking series
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of splashes and crashes but for the new gm the true test is whether people will by their cars. elisabeth leamy in milford, michigan. ahead, at home at the white house with michelle obama what she told mee co-anchor about life with the commander in chief. >> a little intimidated, a little afraid of you do you think? music: "make someone happy" music: "make someone happy" ♪it's so important to make someone happy.♪ music: "make someone happy" ♪'s so important to make meone happy.♪ ♪make just one heart to heart you - you sing to♪ ♪one smile that cheers you ♪one face that lights when it nears you.♪ ♪and you will be happy too.
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newcaster: breaking news. the gecko is demanding free pudding. and political parties that are actual parties! with cake! and presents! ah, that was good. too bad nobody could hear me. geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. >> it has been a bit of a rough patch for president obama following his roundly criticized debate performance last week. times like these a compassionate partner and not so secret weapon are appreciated more than ever
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and over the last several months my co-anchor cynthia mcfadden was granted rare access to that person, first lady michelle obama. good to see you, by questions and small? >> absolutely. good evening. that's right. what's it really like to be married to the leader of the free world and raise children id is she in setting the president's political agenda? well, we asked michelle obama those questions and many others at the white house and on the road. the election now only 29 days away, tonight, a close look at the first lady, for our special seri series, "the contenders, family ties." it's hard to imagine he was ever reluctant to play the role. >> serving as your first lady is an honor and a privilege. but back when we first came tother four years ago i still had some concerns about this journey we'd begun. >> reporter: in a candid white house interview the first lady
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explained what it was like for her back then. >> the political life wasn't my first choice. we had been doing this for a while and you know, the toll that this takes on a family is real. so he knew enough to know that this wasn't just a sure, honey, whatever you want. >> reporter: if you had said no, we can't do this, would we not be sitting here today. >> we would not, that's why i couldn't say no. >> reporter: her brother craig robinson remembers then-senator obama enlisted him to help sell her on the idea to convince him to run for president. >> he said i think i'll take a run at the presidency, i was like what? if you talked to your wife about in? he was like, no, he says to me, you got to do me favor, you got to talk to her because she's not going to go for it. i was like, you're right, darn right she's not going to go for it. >> reporter: craig tells me -- >> yeah. >> reporter: -- your husband was outright nervous to tell you that he wanted to run for president.
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is he a little bit intimidated, a little bit afraid of you, do you think. >> no, not at all. this is one of the things i love about barack, he's so used to having strong women in his life, it's odd, i tell him that this is somehow god keeping his testosterone in check, because really he's surrounded by women. he grew up with a single mom, his grandmother was the true head of the household. he married me, he's got malia and sasha who do not mince their words and he's sustained himself through a life a strong wome >> reporter: her strength comes from the way she grew up, the south side of chicago where he father worked as a pump operator for the city and her mother a homemaker to the hall was princeton, where her parents proudly sacrificed so she and her brother could get an ivy league education. >> i choke up when i talk about this stuff because it is why we're here.
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>> reporter: needless to say her own daughters inhabit a much different world. sasha is now 11 and malia, a teenager. it's hard enough to be 14 if your parents aren't the president and first lady. how do you help her negotiate that real lly frenc lly teachery of 14? >> we don't do the oh, woe is me thing, she's got a great life, she's got great friends, she's happy. it's kind of hard, especially as we point out, look around. you want to see hardship? you want to see struggle? you don't have it, kid, having the president as your father way down on the list of tough. just like, you'll be fine. >> reporter: she often refers to herself as mom in chief she comes to the role with a high-powered pedigree, graduate of harvard law school he ultimately walked way from her career so her husband could pursue his political ambitions. >> i'm his biggest supporter.
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>> reporter: are you also, brutally honest? >> i'm honest, absolutely. >> reporter: you think something has not gone right you say -- >> if i think it will help him but i also temper my remarks because sometimes you know, in a job like this, the last thing the president of the united states needs when he walks in the door to come home is somebody who is drilling him and questioning him about the decisions and choices that he's made. so, there are definitely times when i may feel something but i'll hold back because i'll know he'll either get to that on his own or just not time. >> reporter: outside the white house, there is always lots of chatter about how much is the first lady influencing policy? how do you see your role in that regard? >> i rarely step foot in the west wing. in fact, people are shocked when they see me there but rarely walk in that office because the truth is, he's got so many wonderful advisers, so i don't even have the expertise and the time in to be able to provide
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the kind of advice and guidance that he's already getting. >> reporter: i guess always the pillow at night if you really feel passionate about something. win or lose this election, she says, she's come to love the job she was so reluctant to pursue. not only are you the first lady but you have a historic role as the first african-american first lady. did that come with extra pressures and responsibilities? >> i haven't had time to solely step back and reflect yet on my role as the first african-american. i just want to make sure that i'm doing a good job. >> reporter: is it different to be a black child growing up in america today than it was four years ago? >> you know what, i think that because bah rorack and i are hea do think kids today see a bigger world and understand and it's not so threatening -- >> reporter: as an example a
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photo that hangs in the hall outside the oval office. showing a little boy who had asked the president does your hair feel like mine? >> and barack said why don't you touch it? and bhent over and after he touched it he said, yeah, it does feel like mine. it speaks to who my husba is at his core. if this is what it takes to make all kids in this country feel some kind of connection to this place and to these opportunities and see themselves in these seats and to thrive, every single one of our kids, he'll do it and i'll do it and that's what makes this job so special. >> and tomorrow night we continue our series with the first lady as we travel with her to florida for a cause close to her heart. bill? >> we'll look forward to that as well. thank you. next up, teased hair, cat did the fi catfights, all of the things
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that made life worth living for the fans of "melrose place." that made life worth living for the fans of "melrose place." the cast, next. "erika tsubaki is a bi both." that made life worth living for the fans of "melrose place." the cast, next. "that's what she and her team had in mind when they designed the all new ford escape." "with more cargo space than before, wrapped in a brand new body." "the tech-savvy, ready-for-adventure, all new, twenty thirteen ford escape." "it's what happens when you go further."
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on gasoline. i am probably going to the gas station abouout once a month. last time i was at a gas station was about...i would say... two months ago. i rry rarely put gas in my chevy volt. i go to the gas station such a small amount that i forget how to put gas in my car. [ male announcer ] and it's not just these owners giving the volt high praise. volt received the j.d. power and associates appeal award two years in a row. ♪ take away his toys and he'll play with a stick.row. take away their bikes and they'll still find a way to get where they're going. but if take you away early childhood education... slash k-12 funding... and cut college aid for middle class families ... they won't go far. yet that's exactly what mitt romney wants to do... pay for a $250,000 tax break for multi-millionaires. if mitt romney wins, the middle class loses.
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priorities usa action is responsible for the content of this advertising. finally, a treat for those who spent the '90s glued to the soapy comings and goings of the residents of "melrose place" for seven seasons, the aaron spelling production held an audience ten million strong and despite so many seasons of the back stab and betrayals, the cast, more than happy to reunite and abc's amy robach was there. >> reporter: murder and mini skirts. cheating and cat did the fights, love, lust and revenge. >> i get what i want first. >> reporter: irresistible combination found at one famous address, "melrose place" and
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last month the cast was reunite ford an "enrtainment weekly" cover shoot. >> when i saw this show before i was it on, i just went, oh, my god that group looks so fun to be w i want toe on that show. a special cast. >> reporter: do you have a favorite line? >> they were all good. it was hard to desifr some of them. self-serving pathetic drunk, i'll cut you open like a rotten piece of fruit. >> reporter: at its height the show had over 13 million viewers watching those sexy men rip off their shirts and i was one of them. maybe i had melrose monday -- i married one of the stars. andrew shue, two and a half years ago, and in fact i had to make full disclosure to andrew on our second date, i felt it was a little weird. he kind of asked me if i was a billy fan or a jake fan. i had to be honest. >> and? >> reporter: jake fan. >> oh!
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>> reporter: the plot lines on "melrose place" were irresift ebbib ebbible, shocking and often almost hard to believe. >> the whole building blowing up. >> we all survived. >> we all survivehood. >> allison was blinded and then got her eyesight back and everybody was so nice she didn't tell anybody her eyesight was back. playing blind when i wasn't blind was my favorite. >> reporter: the show-stopping scene that made viewers laugh, gasp or both. >> fabulous. >> reporter: people still talk to you about it? >> i have to say not as much. they did for years and years and luckily -- now they will again. thank you. >> reporr: the penchant for ab sush story lines turned out to be ratings gold. >> you had the crazy open rattic campy soap opera stuff going on and that formula paved the way
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for "desperate housewives" and "revenge" and even "lost." >> reporter: for all of the drama "melrose place" brought up important issues too, doug savant played openly gay matt before ellen degeneres came out on her show. >> i'm proud that i'm part of the history of gay characters in network television. it certainly, if you look at it now, it's very antiquated, we have come a long way and thank god for that. >> reporter: after all of the years, fans still yell out their characters' naps. >> the kids don't know us but their parents do. >> i have a lot of kids named sydney. parents say i named my kid sydney. or my dog railroad guarantees perhaps a continued life for one of tv's most delicious guilty pleasures. for "nightline" i'm amy robach in new york. >> and "entertainment weekly's" reunion issue is on newsstands now. we hope you che i

ABC October 8, 2012 11:35pm-12:00am EDT

News/Business. Cynthia McFadden, Terry Moran, Bill Weir. (2012) New. (HD) (CC)

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